In last month's post, I discussed ways to keep your kids safe in the sun and water never thinking I'd have to practice what I preach. Let me share a recent experience I had with my little guy a few weeks ago. At a family BBQ, I was instituting “touch supervision” with my water-obsessed toddler. I'm not exaggerating. You know how they say “where there's a will, there's a way?”. Well, “where there's water, there's my Joe!” Anyway, I digress. So, at this BBQ, I was exhaustively keeping up with him as he went in and out of a kiddie pool and was running around the yard. At one point, while chatting with a friend, I took my eyes off off him for just a second, and sure enough, he went head first, feet flailing up in the air into a melting bucket of ice that was holding all the beverages. Fortunately, because I was right next to him, I pulled him out just as quickly as he went in. Aside from being stunned and coughing from swallowing some water, he was fine. However, the entire incident hit home...hard. If I hadn't been paying attention, this could have played out much differently. It was a lesson for me, and I hope for anyone reading this, how important it is to not let our guard down. In this season of endless fun and outdoor activities, it's important to be aware of the possible dangers as well--that way we can all have a happy, healthy and safe summer. Now on to this month's post: bicycle, firework, playground and lawn-mower safety.
I think most of us remember the first time we rode a bike, especially without any training wheels. It is often a developmental milestone most of us remember fondly, that is, if all ended well. As parents, we need to think of a bicycle as our son's or daughter's first vehicle. Riding a bike offers a new found freedom and endless hours of fun, but it is also important to be aware of the risks. First, and probably most important, if your child is on a bike, or any other moving object for that matter (i.e. scooter, skate board, roller-skates, etc) they should be wearing a helmet. I think there is a misconception that if they are just riding in the driveway or not going far away from home, they don't need to wear a helmet, but most accidents happen close to home. In fact, here at ABC Pediatrics, we know of children who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in their own driveway from a fall off a bike. Helmets should be worn at all times. Make sure the helmet fits properly so that it covers the forehead and does not tip forward or backward. The strap should be secure enough that you can fit only 2 fingers between your child's chin and the strap. The helmet should feel snug, but not overly tight. Also, when choosing a helmet, make sure there is a label verifying it meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) safety standards. Having trouble getting your little guy to wear his helmet? Well, just as I mentioned in last month's post, children learn best by observing you. If you want your child to wear a helmet, it is best that you wear one too. Also, don't let them have an option of wearing one. They either wear a helmet or don't get to ride their bike. Other bicycle safety tips include, picking an appropriate sized bike based on child's developmental age and height. For example, don't take those training wheels off until your child is good and ready. Also, teach your child to ride on the right hand side of the road going along the direction of traffic, use hand signals, and obey traffic signals and all signs.
With the long, holiday weekend approaching, it's the perfect time to discuss firework safety. While the fireworks of the Fourth of July are beautiful and fun to watch, fireworks can cause severe injury, even death. Fireworks that are traditionally thought to be safe for children, like sparklers, can cause severe burns to both the person handling them and others around them. According to the United States (U.S). Consumer Product Safety Commission, firework related injuries accounted for an estimated 10,500 emergency room visits in the US in 2014. Moreover, children younger than 15 years of age accounted for an estimated 35 percent of those injuries. Given this information, let's leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend community firework displays, rather than using them at home.
Children using playground equipment should be supervised by an adult at all times, whether at home or at a park. Prior to letting your child play on playground equipment, inspect it for loose nuts or bolts or open “S” hooks as those can harm children. Playground equipment should have safety-tested mats or loose fill materials, like wood chips, and be maintained at a depth of 9 inches with at least a 6 foot surround, especially for swings and slides. Playground equipment made of metal, plastic and rubber can over heat in summer time, especially when it is sunny outside, so double check that it's not hot. Make sure that children aren't wearing lose clothing and that helmets are taken off prior to using playground equipment. The ownership or use of home trampolines is not recommended by the AAP as there is a serious risk for injury, even when children are being supervised. Some trampolines have a netting surrounding a trampoline, but this too often provides parents (and children) with a false sense of security. Most trampoline related injuries happen while actually jumping on the trampoline itself, not from falling off of it. If a child does play on a trampoline, he or she should be supervised at all times and only one person should be jumping at a time.
Just this week there was a great article in The Wall Street Journal that discussed the danger lawn-mowers can pose to children. According to a new study from University of Tennessee in Memphis, over 9,000 children are injured each year while mowing the lawn. Now, this doesn't mean your child shouldn't mow the lawn or perform other chores (sorry kids!). All this means is they should be of an appropriate age and follow some simple steps to prevent injury. The AAP recommends that a child be at least 12 years old before using a walk-behind mower or hand mower in order to use it safely and they also recommend that a child be at least 16 years old before they can use a riding lawn-mower safely. Make sure you teach him or her how use the lawn-mower properly and supervise them until they can manage to complete the task independently. Click here for additional safety tips before, during and after mowing the lawn.
Well, that's a wrap. That was a lot of information. As always, if you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to contact us here at ABC Pediatrics. Enjoy the rest of your summer and have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July weekend!
*Information presented adapted from:
American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org, “Bicycle Safety: Myths and Facts” https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Bicycle-Safety-Myths-And-Facts.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics news feature “2016 Summer Safety Tips”
American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org, “Lawn Mower Safety” https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Lawnmower-Safety.aspx
American Journal of Surgery, “Epidemiology of lawn-mower related injuries in children: A 10 year review” http://www.americanjournalofsurgery.com/article/S0002-9610(16)30006-X/abstract
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's 2014 Fireworks Annual Report http://www.cpsc.gov//Global/Research-and-Statistics/Injury-Statistics/Fuel-Lighters-and-Fireworks/Fireworks_Report_2014.pdf
Mary-Faith Fuller, CPNP
I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has worked at ABC Pediatrics since January 2014.